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Concept: Electrode


ABSTRACT Fe(II)-oxidizing aerobic bacteria are poorly understood, due in part to the difficulties involved in laboratory cultivation. Specific challenges include (i) providing a steady supply of electrons as Fe(II) while (ii) managing rapid formation of insoluble Fe(III) oxide precipitates and (iii) maintaining oxygen concentrations in the micromolar range to minimize abiotic Fe(II) oxidation. Electrochemical approaches offer an opportunity to study bacteria that require problematic electron donors or acceptors in their respiration. In the case of Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria, if the electron transport machinery is able to oxidize metals at the outer cell surface, electrodes poised at potentials near those of natural substrates could serve as electron donors, eliminating concentration issues, side reactions, and mineral end products associated with metal oxidation. To test this hypothesis, the marine isolate Mariprofundus ferrooxydans PV-1, a neutrophilic obligate Fe(II)-oxidizing autotroph, was cultured using a poised electrode as the sole energy source. When cells grown in Fe(II)-containing medium were transferred into a three-electrode electrochemical cell, a cathodic (negative) current representing electron uptake by bacteria was detected, and it increased over a period of weeks. Cultures scraped from a portion of the electrode and transferred into sterile reactors consumed electrons at a similar rate. After three transfers in the absence of Fe(II), electrode-grown biofilms were studied to determine the relationship between donor redox potential and respiration rate. Electron microscopy revealed that under these conditions, M. ferrooxydans PV-1 attaches to electrodes and does not produce characteristic iron oxide stalks but still appears to exhibit bifurcate cell division. IMPORTANCE Electrochemical cultivation, supporting growth of bacteria with a constant supply of electron donors or acceptors, is a promising tool for studying lithotrophic species in the laboratory. Major pitfalls present in standard cultivation methods used for metal-oxidizing microbes can be avoided by the use of an electrode as the sole electron donor. Electrochemical cultivation also offers a window into the poorly understood metabolism of microbes such as obligate Fe(II), Mn(II), or S(0) oxidizers by replacing the electron source with the controlled surface of an electrode. The elucidation of redox-dependent behavior of these microbes could enhance industrial applications tuned to oxidation of specific metals, provide insight into how bacteria evolved to compete with oxygen for reactive metal species, and model geochemical impacts of their metabolism in the environment.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Bacteria, Redox, Electrochemistry, Cellular respiration, Electrode, Electrochemical cell, Electrolysis


The grand vision of manufacturing large-area emissive devices with low-cost roll-to-roll coating methods, akin to how newspapers are produced, appeared with the emergence of the organic light-emitting diode about 20 years ago. Today, small organic light-emitting diode displays are commercially available in smartphones, but the promise of a continuous ambient fabrication has unfortunately not materialized yet, as organic light-emitting diodes invariably depend on the use of one or more time- and energy-consuming process steps under vacuum. Here we report an all-solution-based fabrication of an alternative emissive device, a light-emitting electrochemical cell, using a slot-die roll-coating apparatus. The fabricated flexible sheets exhibit bidirectional and uniform light emission, and feature a fault-tolerant >1-μm-thick active material that is doped in situ during operation. It is notable that the initial preparation of inks, the subsequent coating of the constituent layers and the final device operation all could be executed under ambient air.

Concepts: Cathode, Vacuum tube, Light, Solar cell, Electrode, Light-emitting diode, Diode, Light-emitting diodes


We have found that the addition of tin nanoparticles to a silicon-based anode provides dramatic improvements in performance in terms of both charge capacity and cycling stability. Using a simple procedure and off-the-shelf additives and precursors, we developed a structure in which the tin nanoparticles are segregated at the interface between the silicon-containing active layer and the solid electrolyte interface. Even a minor addition of tin, as small as ∼2% by weight, results in a significant decrease in the anode resistance, as confirmed by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. This leads to a decrease in charge transfer resistance, which prevents the formation of electrically inactive “dead spots” in the anode structure and enables the effective participation of silicon in the lithiation reaction.

Concepts: Cathode, Michael Faraday, Electrochemistry, Aluminium, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrode, Anode


We reported well-integrated zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorod arrays (NRAs) on conductive textiles (CTs) and their structural and optical properties. The integrated ZnO NRAs were synthesized by cathodic electrochemical deposition on the ZnO seed layer-coated CT substrate in ultrasonic bath. The ZnO NRAs were regularly and densely grown as well as vertically aligned on the overall surface of CT substrate, in comparison with the grown ZnO NRAs without ZnO seed layer or ultrasonication. Additionally, their morphologies and sizes can be efficiently controlled by changing the external cathodic voltage between the ZnO seed-coated CT substrate and the counter electrode. At an external cathodic voltage of -2 V, the photoluminescence property of ZnO NRAs was optimized with good crystallinity and high density.

Concepts: Zinc, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrode, Electrolysis, Anode, Zinc oxide, Textile


Silicon materials remain unused for supercapacitors due to extreme reactivity of silicon with electrolytes. However, doped silicon materials boast a low mass density, excellent conductivity, a controllably etched nanoporous structure, and combined earth abundance and technological presence appealing to diverse energy storage frameworks. Here, we demonstrate a universal route to transform porous silicon (P-Si) into stable electrodes for electrochemical devices through growth of an ultra-thin, conformal graphene coating on the P-Si surface. This graphene coating simultaneously passivates surface charge traps and provides an ideal electrode-electrolyte electrochemical interface. This leads to 10-40X improvement in energy density, and a 2X wider electrochemical window compared to identically-structured unpassivated P-Si. This work demonstrates a technique generalizable to mesoporous and nanoporous materials that decouples the engineering of electrode structure and electrochemical surface stability to engineer performance in electrochemical environments. Specifically, we demonstrate P-Si as a promising new platform for grid-scale and integrated electrochemical energy storage.

Concepts: Density, Water, Electrochemistry, Engineering, Silicon, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrode


Calcium is an attractive material for the negative electrode in a rechargeable battery due to its low electronegativity (high cell voltage), double valence, earth abundance and low cost; however, the use of calcium has historically eluded researchers due to its high melting temperature, high reactivity and unfavorably high solubility in molten salts. Here we demonstrate a long-cycle-life calcium-metal-based rechargeable battery for grid-scale energy storage. By deploying a multi-cation binary electrolyte in concert with an alloyed negative electrode, calcium solubility in the electrolyte is suppressed and operating temperature is reduced. These chemical mitigation strategies also engage another element in energy storage reactions resulting in a multi-element battery. These initial results demonstrate how the synergistic effects of deploying multiple chemical mitigation strategies coupled with the relaxation of the requirement of a single itinerant ion can unlock calcium-based chemistries and produce a battery with enhanced performance.

Concepts: Cathode, Electrochemistry, Chemistry, Solid, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrode, Rechargeable battery


Molecular electronics aims to miniaturize electronic devices by using subnanometre-scale active components. A single-molecule diode, a circuit element that directs current flow, was first proposed more than 40 years ago and consisted of an asymmetric molecule comprising a donor-bridge-acceptor architecture to mimic a semiconductor p-n junction. Several single-molecule diodes have since been realized in junctions featuring asymmetric molecular backbones, molecule-electrode linkers or electrode materials. Despite these advances, molecular diodes have had limited potential for applications due to their low conductance, low rectification ratios, extreme sensitivity to the junction structure and high operating voltages. Here, we demonstrate a powerful approach to induce current rectification in symmetric single-molecule junctions using two electrodes of the same metal, but breaking symmetry by exposing considerably different electrode areas to an ionic solution. This allows us to control the junction’s electrostatic environment in an asymmetric fashion by simply changing the bias polarity. With this method, we reliably and reproducibly achieve rectification ratios in excess of 200 at voltages as low as 370 mV using a symmetric oligomer of thiophene-1,1-dioxide. By taking advantage of the changes in the junction environment induced by the presence of an ionic solution, this method provides a general route for tuning nonlinear nanoscale device phenomena, which could potentially be applied in systems beyond single-molecule junctions.

Concepts: Cathode, Vacuum tube, Semiconductor, Transistor, Electrode, Diode, Electronics, P-n junction


One of the greatest challenges with lithium-oxygen batteries involves identifying catalysts that facilitate the growth and evolution of cathode species on an oxygen electrode. Heterogeneous solid catalysts cannot adequately address the problematic overpotentials when the surfaces become passivated. However, there exists a class of biomolecules which have been designed by nature to guide complex solution-based oxygen chemistries. Here, we show that the heme molecule, a common porphyrin cofactor in blood, can function as a soluble redox catalyst and oxygen shuttle for efficient oxygen evolution in non-aqueous Li-O2 batteries. The heme’s oxygen binding capability facilitates battery recharge by accepting and releasing dissociated oxygen species while benefiting charge transfer with the cathode. We reveal the chemical change of heme redox molecules where synergy exists with the electrolyte species. This study brings focus to the rational design of solution-based catalysts and suggests a sustainable cross-link between biomolecules and advanced energy storage.

Concepts: Oxygen, Metabolism, Molecule, Electrochemistry, Chemistry, Battery, Electrode, Biomolecule


Optimal decision-making requires balancing fast but error-prone and more accurate but slower decisions through adjustments of decision thresholds. Here, we demonstrate two distinct correlates of such speed-accuracy adjustments by recording subthalamic nucleus (STN) activity and electroencephalography in eleven Parkinson’s disease patients during a perceptual decision-making task; STN low-frequency oscillatory (LFO) activity (2-8 Hz), coupled to activity at prefrontal electrode Fz, and STN beta activity (13-30 Hz) coupled to electrodes C3/C4 close to motor cortex. These two correlates not only differed in their cortical topography and spectral characteristics, but also in the relative timing of recruitment and in their precise relationship with decision thresholds. Increases of STN LFO power preceding the response predicted increased thresholds only after accuracy instructions, while cue-induced reductions of STN beta power decreased thresholds irrespective of instructions. These findings indicate that distinct neural mechanisms determine whether a decision will be made in haste or with caution.

Concepts: Brain, Decision making, Parkinson's disease, Cerebrum, Subthalamic nucleus, Basal ganglia, Electrode, Accuracy and precision


The rechargeable nonaqueous lithium-air (Li-O(2)) battery is receiving a great deal of interest because, theoretically, its specific energy far exceeds the best that can be achieved with lithium-ion cells. Operation of the rechargeable Li-O(2) battery depends critically on repeated and highly reversible formation/decomposition of lithium peroxide (Li(2)O(2)) at the cathode upon cycling. Here, we show that this process is possible with the use of a dimethyl sulfoxide electrolyte and a porous gold electrode (95% capacity retention from cycles 1 to 100), whereas previously only partial Li(2)O(2) formation/decomposition and limited cycling could occur. Furthermore, we present data indicating that the kinetics of Li(2)O(2) oxidation on charge is approximately 10 times faster than on carbon electrodes.

Concepts: Cathode, Electrochemistry, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrode, Electrolysis, Rechargeable battery, Anode